MONTGOMERY - The Summer Alive program will be back in 2017 and will be bigger and better than before. A new outdoor kitchen will be added, so children will have the opportunity to plant, grow, and cook their own vegetables.
Lu Ann Potter, who is the director of the program, says that the kitchen is designed after one used in the successful Edible School Yard Project in Berkley, California. The outdoor kitchen will feature two sinks, two burner camp stoves, two butane stoves, woks, cutting boards, and knives. The space is designed for ten children to work simultaneously. It will also feature a water catchment that will filter rainwater to water the gardens.
Potter commented, "We're trying to make stewards of the earth. If they don't know it, they can't love it."
BARB BARRETT/The Luminary
This summer Montgomery children will be able to enjoy a new outdoor kitchen with their Summer Alive program. It will feature two sinks, two butane stoves, woks, cutting boards and knives. Children will be able to cook their own food. Last summer, as shown, children enjoyed making mud pies.
However, the children won't be the only ones who will benefit from it. The kitchen will also be used to offer cooking classes to the community.
Summer Alive is made possible by grants and donations from many generous supporters. Seed Money is providing the funds for the outdoor kitchen and expanding the gardens. The USDA Summer Food Program provides breakfast and lunch. A crowd funding grant and Lycoming County Children and Youth are donating to the garden project.
The Lycoming County Conservation District is partnering in a project that will allow children to go to Black Hole Creek and the Susquehanna River to make comparisons of water samples. The program is also sponsored by PPL and Montgomery Lions Club.
The program originally began in 2015 out of concern from St. John's Lutheran "Brick" Church and Footprints of Montgomery that children who received free school lunches wouldn't have access to the school cafeteria during the summer. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to children. In 2015, 30 children attended. In 2016, 212 kids attended, averaging sixty children per day.
The Summer Alive Program isn't strictly about gardening and cooking. Potter commented that one of the program goals is also "about introducing kids to outdoor play. Kids should be able to play like they used to play outside freely without structured sports." However, the program does offer a sports section and stations that cater to making mud pies, adventure play, a pop-up play television station, and a village that the children construct themselves from cardboard and duct tape.
Tina Tickle will be running an arts, crafts, and music program. Children will have the opportunity to take free guitar, ukulele, and keyboard lessons, and painting classes will be offered. There will also be a "Hammer Hut" where children will build wooden bird houses that will be placed in the park and around Montgomery.
This year, the program has grown and will include ten raised beds for growing a large variety of vegetables and herbs. There will also be blueberry bushes and butterfly gardens.
Beginning in June after school is out, the Summer Alive program will be held in Montgomery Park and is free for all children to attend.